Daily fantasy football has become the quickly growing trend in recent years. Everyone who plays wants a taste of NFL DFS glory, but if you're more inclined to focus on your season-long leagues, there's a lot to understand about DFS before jumping in. Whether you play in cash games and tournaments or on DraftKings and FanDuel (or a host of other options) will determine how you play -- and how much you enjoy playing.
Before diving in, check out our breakdown of each of the DK and FD formats. Much of what's written below will also apply on third-party DFS sites, too, but we focused on the two biggest sites for the sake of this article. Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how to approach your NFL DFS strategy each week.
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Starting out in DFS? Try cash games
You won't find a spot on the DFS site labeled "cash games," but that's what 50/50 contests and double-up contests are commonly referred to as. The idea here is that half or almost half of the participants will win a cash payout. In a 50/50, it's literally half of the entrants, usually receiving about 80-percent winnings of your entry, while a double-up wins back double the entry fee for a little less than half the participants. The house has to profit, after all.
Cash games are the best way to get familiar with the DFS sites without quickly falling in a huge hole. They don't necessarily require a player to hit on each lineup decision they make -- just most of them. One or two clunkers doesn't prohibit you from still cashing out on a given night.
Generally, cash games are thought of as the entry type that begs you to be conservative. Taking too many risks can bury you below the cash line. Proven, veteran players who have their standard, solid week are usually enough to help you cash. In football, if you can hit on a "stack" -- playing a quarterback with one or more of his pass-catchers -- that could be almost enough to have you cashing by itself.
Win big in NFL DFS tournaments
Tournaments, put simply, pay out a much smaller percentage of contestants than cash games, but they also pay out in a tiered system where first place wins more than 10th place and so on. When you see DFS advertised on TV, they're advertising tournaments where you can win huge prizes.
There's more risk involved in playing tournaments because even the most payout-friendly tournaments will feature at most 25 percent of participants cashing out. That means that instead of your lineup only having to be better than half your competitors, it has to be better than three-quarters of them.
There are benefits to taking a few risks in touranment lineups -- if you hit on a big game from a player whose ownership is very low across the tournament, that gives you a leg up on everyone else. Stacking still has merit here, too, with the idea of hitting on a lesser-owned stack a good one, too.
For new DFS players, it might be best to look for "single-entry" tournaments. These allow each contestant to enter the tournament just once. Professional DFS players often reside in the multi-entry tournaments, that allow them to enter as many as 20 or 50 lineups, be they identical or with slight variations. That makes the chances of a casual player cashing that much tougher.
Focus on one matchup in head-to-head DFS
If you're someone who really likes rooting against your opponent's players in your season-long weekly matchups, you could consider the head-to-head contests on DFS sites. These pit you against one other competitor, with one of you taking home what is essentially a 50/50 payout from your two entry fees.
You can enter public head-to-head matchups, but in that case, there's only so much you can know about who you're competing against ahead of time. The sites do give you limited opponent information before joining a contest, but it might be best to save the head-to-head option for private contests with your friends.
Shoot for a target with FanDuel's Beat the Score DFS
FanDuel features a limited number of contests each day under the "Beat the Score" title. These are pretty self-explanatory: Instead, of competing to beat your competitors' scores, you're attempting to top a pre-determined point total.
Each Beat the Score contest has a guaranteed prize pool, and it's split up evenly among all the contestants in a given day who enter and beat that score. If no one or everyone beats the score, entry fees are returned.
Beat the Score contests require less thinking about potential ownership percentages and more thinking about simply maximizing points in your DFS lineup, even with popular plays. They also feature the added mystery of what exactly your payout will be before the night is over. The downside is that, while competing for a score that normally equates to the cash line in tournaments, you won't get any additional payout if you blow past it. First place in Beat the Score receives the same payout as the player who barely equals the score.
Draft your DFS roster with 'Snake Draft'
Both FanDuel and DraftKings have a snake draft feature for daily contests, too. For those of you more familiar with season-long leagues, this should have some appeal.
Immediately following the filling of a contest, a quick draft takes place on the site. It snakes, meaning whoever picks first in one round picks last in the next round and so on. This format guarantees that each player will only be rostered once, unlike the rest of the DFS contests which could feature players with heavy ownership.
The downside to snake draft contests as they currently exist is their sizes: If either three or six people enter and fill rosters of six players, you can't easily show off your sleeper knowledge. It means you could just end up in a shootout between the top players on that day's slate.
Use FanDuel and DraftKings for your best ball leagues
You can find much more on best ball leagues here. Both FanDuel and DraftKings now offer that format. You can either enter an isolated league with a fixed number of players, or enter into a tournament where come fantasy playoff time, your score counts against all the best-ball players nationwide in that tournament.
If you like low in-season management, best ball could be for you. And if you already have a healthy balance in your FanDuel or DraftKings account and want to try out best ball, it makes sense to easily do it on your go-to site.